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Deaths related to Prescription Drug Overdoses Decline in 2011

Deaths related to Prescription Drug Overdoses Decline in 2011

August 14, 2012

DECATUR – An analysis of autopsies performed by the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in 152 counties which drug overdose was the cause of death or a significant contributing factor in the death found there was an 8.6% decrease in the number of prescription overdose deaths in 2011 compared to 2010.  

Note: These statistics do NOT include autopsies performed by medical examiners in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Henry, Hall or Rockdale Counties.

Of the 664 drug overdose deaths in 2011, there were 512 deaths which involved only prescription drugs.  The analysis also showed that 82 drug overdose deaths in 2011 involved only illicit drugs and seventy (70) deaths were attributed to a combination of both prescription and illicit drugs.

In 2010, 560 of the 729 overdose deaths were attributed to prescription drugs only. 

Deaths from: 2008 2009 2010 2011
Rx Only 496 508 560 512
Illicit Drugs only 95 86 101 82
Combination
Rx & Illicit
47 76 68 70
Total Overdose Deaths 638 670 729 664

Drug Related Deaths 2011

For overdose drug deaths in 2011, the drugs found through toxicology tests in the highest numbers were as follows:

Drug Number
Alprazolam (For anxiety, Xanax) 231
Oxycodone (Narcotic Pain Reliever) 188
Methadone (Narcotic Pain Reliever) 158
Hydrocodone (Narcotic Pain Reliever) 133
Cocaine (Stimulant, Illicit) 89
Fentanyl (Narcotic Pain Reliever) 65
Morphine (Narcotic Pain Reliever) 63
Diphenhydramine (Antihistamine, Benadryl) 55
Methamphetamine (Stimulant, Illicit) 51
Citalopram (For depression, Celexa) 46

These are just the top 10 of the seventy-one (71) different drugs found in toxicology tests run on the 664 total overdose deaths.  There were on average 2.54 drugs found for each death (1686 instances of the 71 different drugs found in the 664 deaths).  

For all drug deaths, the numbers per age range for 2011 were as follows:

Age Number of deaths
15 or younger 0
15 – 24 59
25 – 34 130
35 – 44 169
45 – 54 212
55 – 64 81
64 or older 13

A breakdown by race and sex for 2011 for all drug overdose death follows:

White 603 91%
Black 61 9%
Females 299 45%
Males 365 55%

A breakdown on the manner of death for 2011 drug overdose deaths:

Accidental 603 91%
Suicide 51 8%
Undetermined 10 1%

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Contact Information: 
John Bankhead – 404-270-8330